Why Shelling Beans Are The Secret To Better Vegetarian Soup

Eating vegetarian soup that brims with shelling beans may inspire you to think of beans in an entirely new way. Shelling beans are similar to dry beans, but in your recipes, you'll treat them as a vegetable. What sets these types of legumes apart is that they taste sweeter than the canned beaned varieties and have a smoother texture when you're cooking with them. They are also much faster to make since they don't need to be soaked first, as many other canned versions do. 

This is because shelling beans are fresh from a live plant, while dried beans have been stored and need to be rehydrated. Fresh shelling beans also have soft skins, so they usually take only between 10 and 60 minutes of cooking to become tender. Vegetarian soups with shelling beans can be light, healthy, and full of flavor by merely adding a fennel bulb, a whole shallot, a halved carrot, and a handful of chopped cauliflower.

Which type of shelling beans you should choose

You'll find shelling beans at the farmers' market in the late summer and early fall. Straight off the vines, they are fresh beans still in their pods. As you roam the stalls, you'll see before you bountiful options that range in color from mottled rosé cranberry beans to deep ebony black turtle legumes. Youthful shelling beans will have compact pods, and more mature varieties will be darker with slightly wrinkled pods. The ideal kind that you'll want to look for are heavy for their size, should be dried out, and not too green because you want them to be ripe enough. 

Once you've picked the type you prefer and you're ready to use them, all you need to do is give your plump shelling beans a light squeeze and the pod should pop open immediately. Then add them to your favorite recipes like a tasty vegetarian soup or even try adding them to a fresh tomato salad or a creamy ragout. If you have any shelling beans left over, gently wrap them in plastic and put them in the fridge for later use. Then you can continue adding these sweet and delicious legumes to some of your other favorite meals.